Downtown Height Limits in Punta Gorda to be Revisited

The Jun 6th Punta Gorda City Council meeting will feature reconsideration of a March 7th directive related to City Center increased building heights .  At the March 7 City Council meeting, the Council directed staff to develop draft code changes that give the ability for property owners in the City Center zoning district to achieve building heights of 84 feet, as long as enhanced architectural, setback, and pedestrian amenities were incorporated in the design.

Vice Mayor Gary Wein requested the Council to reconsider this directive, noting that 84 feet was an arbitrary number and simply one to start a conversation.   Since that time he says he’s been made aware of the benefits that the City has derived out of requiring variances for height over 50 feet.  For example, the Four Points Sheraton and the City negotiated donation of land and construction costs for a harbor walk.

While the City Attorney cautioned the Council about his concerns about the variance process, his concerns are just that — concerns.  The Council need not follow them but do need to understand them. Additionally, the City is moving forward with a process to secure the services of a planning firm that, once hired, will perform a review of the City’s land-development regulations. Therefore, it would be prudent to allow for that firm to assist staff in crafting regulations for further Council consideration.

Also on the City Council Agenda are a number of budget issues, including the awarding of contracts for swale regrading throughout the City, for construction a restroom by the Gilchrist Park playground, for construction 41 additional parking spaces in Laishley Park, and allocation of funds to install more mature trees and benches in the recently renovated area of Gilchrist Park.

Finally, the Council will also discuss gas pump security measures related to card skimmers, which appear to be a problem at some area gas stations.